Ecological Interactions and Biological Control

By David A. Andow; David W. Ragsdale et al. | Go to book overview
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sound methods of weed control, but also enhance the use of microorganisms in other areas of agriculture and the environment for as many applications as we care to imagine and discover.


Microorganisms can significantly influence the distribution, abundance, and competition among plant species, and thus they can be used in biological weed control programs. Deleterious rhizobacteria (DRB) are soil bacteria that colonize the rhizosphere and suppress plant growth by the production of phytotoxic substances. These substances can impair seed germination and delay plant development in specific plant species and cultivars. These DRB have the potential to be used to regulate the growth of weeds. Biological control of weeds using DRB while reducing weed pressures can reduce costs, the need for tillage, and synthetic pesticide use. We have isolated soil bacteria that are selective in their suppression of various weed species and are effective in reducing weeds when they are applied to the field. These bacteria are excellent biological control agents because they are aggressive colonizers of the roots and residue, thereby functioning as a direct delivery system for the natural, plant- suppressive compounds they produce. A better understanding of the ecology of these bacteria and the weeds they suppress is needed for the successful use of this technology.


Alstrom, S. 1987. "Factors associated with detrimental effects of rhizobacteria on plant growth". Plant and Soil 102:3-9.

Alstrom, S., and R. G. Burns. 1989. "Cyanide production by rhizobacteria as a possible mechanism of plant growth inhibition". Biology and Fertility of Soils 7:232-38.

Astrom, B. 1991. "Intra- and interspecific variations in plant response to inoculations with deleterious rhizosphere pseudomonads". Journal of Phytopathology 131:184-92.

Bakker, A. W., and B. Schippers. 1987. "Microbial cyanide production in the rhizosphere in relation to potato yield reduction and Pseudomonas spp.-mediated plant growth reduction". Soil Biology and Biochemistry 19:452-58.

Bolton, H., and L. F. Elliott. 1989. "Toxin production by a rhizobacterial sp. that inhibits wheat root growth". Plant and Soil 114:269-78.

Charudattan, R., and C. J. DeLoach Jr. 1988. Management of pathogens and insects for weed control in agroecosystems. In Weed management in agroecosystems: Ecological approaches, ed. M. A. Altieri and A. Liebman, 245-64. Boca Raton, Fla.: CRC Press.

Cherrington, C. A., and L. F. Elliott. 1987. "Incidence of inhibitory pseudomonads in the Pacific Northwest". Plant and Soil 101:159-65.

Cullen, J. M., P. F. Kable, and M. Catt. 1973. "Epidemic spread of a rust imported for biological control". Nature 244:462-64.

Daniel, J. T., G. E. Templeton, R. J. Smith Jr., and W. T. Fox. 1973. "Biological control of northern jointvetch in rice with an endemic fungal disease". Weed Science 21:303-7.


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